December 16, 2014

Rätsel

Rätsel translates to 'conundrum' or 'puzzle'.

While living in Germany, I made several friends that became close enough that we could have 'that' conversation. We spoke about the Holocaust, what it was like for their families, how it affected them in the present. Many older Germans simply did not speak of it. It was an embarrassment, something that they were ashamed of - for whatever reason, whether it be action, inaction, ignorance, denial. Some likely didn't speak out of respect, some out of pain. At that time, there were buildings occupied by the American military that bore the marks of the Third Reich. Swastikas inlaid in tile work of WWII-era buildings, covered with carpet, but frequently pulled back to satisfy the curiosity of youngish Americans. A rather macabre visual reminder of the events that we had learned from history books.

We were acquainted with one family that embraced the members of our Army unit, as the family patriarch, Dr. Uhl, credited his life to American soldiers and his family showed their eternal thanks by befriending the soldiers. They entertained, shared their home, 'adopted' single soldiers, took us to a friend's Christmas tree farm each year, and bottled and served a potent brown liqueur that was legendary for its memory-erasing abilities.

 No doubt, the people of Germany have had to deal with a history that is notorious, inexplicable, horrifying, humiliating. The German people are infinitely sensitive to nationalistic behavior and displays. How difficult it must be, then, to be faced with the growing threat of 'Islaminisation', and struggle with the inevitable judgment that will/would come should they take a stand against immigration, or rally for people of a certain race, culture, or ethnicity to be prohibited from living in Germany. I hope that Germans can find some middle ground. Some place where patriotic Germans have the freedom to express their views without being branded an extremist. Some place where voicing concerns about national security and the need to control immigration doesn't earn comparisons to Hitler.

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